Thursday, April 23, 2009

Yellow Milk

Sometimes I just don't understand where my peers are coming from.

Recently, I was talking to a friend of mine who shares a similar passion for cuisine and the beauty of ingredients and he was relating to me a story about milk. A barista he knew asked him to source some milk for a competition. Being the lover of great ingredients that my friend is, he went to a local farmer who's producing some truly stellar milk - a farmer who laughed at him when he told the farmer that he would like the farmer to supply him with 40 gallons of milk per week to supply his coffee house.

Laughed at him because the farmer just didn't produce that volume of milk. He produced high quality milk but on a small scale and at serious prices. The average gallon of commercial milk is roughly $2.50. The milk I use is $5.50. The milk this farmer produces is $10.00 per gallon and, from what I'm told, is just exquisite. Rich, sweet, creamy and made from the best ingredients (i.e. pastured on grass). It's the kind of milk we dream about.

As any passionate individual, my friend packs the milk on ice and drives it to the competition. He's excited to share the milk and, from what I've been told, that's where things went awry. That's when this barista's "team" got involved.

They tasted the milk but found it "too weird" and "too different" than the commercial milk they were used to. They fretted that the judges would find the milk to be "too different" and very unlike what they were used to and expecting. Not to mention the fact that the milk looked yellow.

I realize that for most people yellow milk is an odd sight to behold. Commercial milk is alpine white and alpine white it shall be. Therefore, there must be something wrong with yellow milk.

As I listened to the story, I couldn't help but wonder if this barista and the "team" had any real exposure to this level of ingredient? Had they only been exposed to commercial ingredients? Was I expecting too much to expect that these baristas know that the "yellow" tint was due to the diet of the cows and the sweet, rich cream in the milk?

This was the point where I want to look for a concrete wall to bash my head against. Isn't the point of competition presenting judges with something they haven't tasted before? Isn't the notion of a milk that's sweet, rich and vastly different than commercial a good thing?